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Separation of Church and State

Separation of Church and State

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Published by Papa Giorgio
This is originally from a debate. It is not well referenced nor is this wholly me writing as I quote quote a bit from others work and combine them with my own thoughts. (Not fully edited.)
This is originally from a debate. It is not well referenced nor is this wholly me writing as I quote quote a bit from others work and combine them with my own thoughts. (Not fully edited.)

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Papa Giorgio on Jul 23, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/21/2010

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Separation of Church and State?
Definitions First
Religion, as defined by the Founders of the Constitution and the First Amendment, wasunderstood to mean a Christian denomination. First, let us review modern and classicaldefinitions of religion. Very simply, using today’s definitions to define yesterday’s words maylead to ridiculous historical conclusions. This first definition is a current one, followed by theclassical one that was framed into the First Amendment.
Religion:
“A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of theuniverse”
(From: Random House Dictionary of the English Language, unabridged2nd addition [New York: Random House,
1987
], s.v.
“religion.”
).[
Side note
: Atheism falls under this definition, this is why there are tax-exempt atheist churches.Moreover, in 1969 Buddhism and Secular Humanism (atheistic religions) became officialreligions according to our Supreme Court. Secular Humanism (a materialistic, atheistic,explanation of our existence) has been taught and funded in our public schools for quite a longtime]
Religion:
 
“Includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelationof His will to man, in man’s obligation to obey His commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with practice of all moral duties.”
(From: NoahWebster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, [New York: S.Converse,
1828
], s.v.
“religion.”
)With that in mind, anyone who reads the following will better understand the mind-frame inwhich the word
religion
was used.
The First Amendment
 The First Amendment never intended to separate Christian principles from government. Yettoday we so often hear the First Amendment coupled with the phrase
“separation of church and  state.
The First Amendment simply states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting anestablishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Obviously, the words
“separation,” “church,”
or 
“state”
are not found in the First Amendment;furthermore, that phrase appears in no founding document! While most recognize the phrase
“separation of church and state,”
few know its source
; but it is important to understand theorigins of that phrase. What is the history of the First Amendment?The process of drafting the First Amendment made the intent of the Founders abundantly clear;for before they approved the final wording, the First Amendment went through nearly a dozendifferent iterations and extensive discussions.
 
Those discussions – recorded in the Congressional Records from June 7 through September 25,1789 – make clear their intent for the First Amendment. For example, the original version(followed by later versions) introduced in the Senate on September 3, 1789, stated:
“Congress shall not make any law establishing any religious denomination.”“Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination.” “Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination in preference to another.”
 
“Congress shall make no law establishing religion
[denomination]
or prohibiting the free exercise there of.”
By it, the Founders were saying:
“We do not want in America what we had in Great Britain: wedon’t want one denomination running the nation. We will not have Catholics, or Anglicans, or any other single denomination. We do want God's principles, but we don’t want onedenomination running the nation.”
Of interest is the proposal that
George Mason
– a member of the Constitutional Convention and
“The Father of the Bill of Rights”
– put forth for the First Amendment:
“All men have equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or  society of Christians
[denomination]
ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”
 Their intent was well understood, as evidence by court rulings after the First Amendment. For example, a 1799 court declared:
“By our form of government, the Christian principles we do want God's principles – but we don’t want one
denomination
to run the nation.”
Again, note the emphasis:
“We do want Christian principles – we do want God's principles – but we don’t want one
denomination
to run the nation.”
 
Seperation?
Thomas Jefferson,
 
to whom the now popular phrase
“Separation of Church and State,”
isattributed, also believed, as did the other Founders, of denomination being the understood intentof the First Amendment – a fact he made clear in a letter to Benjamin Rush. In that letter,Jefferson committed himself as President to not allowing the Episcopalians, theCongregationalists, or any other denomination, to achieve what Jefferson called the
“establishment of a particular form of Christianity.” 
So, what is the source of Jefferson’s nowinfamous phrase?
 
On November 7, 1801, the Baptists of Danbury Connecticut wrote Jefferson, concerned that theguarantee of the
“free exercise of religion”
appeared in the First Amendment. To them, thissuggested that the right to religious exercise was a government-granted rather then a God-granted right. Thus implying that someday the government might try to regulate religiousexpression. They believed that freedom of religion was a God-granted, unalienable right, andthat the government should be powerless to restrict religious activities unless, as the Baptistsexplained, those activities
“caused someone to work ill to his neighbor.”
 On January 1, 1802, Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists. He concurred with their belief that man accounted to God alone for his faith and worship, not to the government; and he further emphasized that none of man’s
“natural rights”
– including the natural right to obey
publicly
 the duties which God had
imposed
upon man (say current social issues: homosexuality, abortion, etc.) – would ever place man in a situation where the government would interfere. Jeffersonunderstood their concern. In his response, he assured them that the free exercise of religion wasindeed an unalienable right and would not be meddled with by government. Jefferson pointedout to them that there was a
“separation between church and state”
to insure that governmentwould never interfere with religious activities.Today, all that is heard of Jefferson’s letter is the phrase,
“a wall of separation between churchand state,”
without either context, or the explanation given (from that letter), or its application by earlier courts. The clear understanding of the First Amendment for a century-and-a-half wasthat it prohibited the establishment of a single
national denomination
. National policies andrulings in that century-and-a-half always reflected that interpretation.For example, in 1853, a group petitioned Congress to separate Christian principles fromgovernment. They desired a so-called
“separation of church and state,”
with chaplains beingturned out of Congress, the military, etc.. Their petition was referred to the House and theSenate Judiciary Committees, which investigated for almost a year to see if it would be possibleto separate Christian principles from government.Both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees returned with their reports. The followingare excerpts from the House report delivered on March 27, 1854:
“Had the people [the Founding Fathers], during the Revolution, had a suspicionof any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and theamendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged,but not any one sect [denomination]…. In this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…. That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and theyexpected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”
 Two months later, the Judiciary Committee made this strong declaration:

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